Ten top marketing tips for practice managers

I had the privilege yesterday of doing a quick presentation as part of Kevin Rose's 'Perfect Practice Manager' Workshop. Rather than focusing on the strategic side of marketing the aim was to provide the practice managers with ideas that they could start using and implementing at their practices straight away. Here is a very quick summary of the content:

Context: Marketing in Dentistry

Marketing is everything that do, everything that you say, everything that you stand for.

  • Understand the direction and purpose of the practice
  • Who is your ideal patient? What are they interested in? How can you connect with them?
  • Build a quality brand
  • Focus on long term loyalty and ongoing referrals
  • Ensure the ultimate patient journey

Tip 1: Understand the decision-making process of a dental patient:

Help your patients by educating and informing them. Case studies, testimonials, videos and photos will all help – utilise social media.

Tip 2: Stop ignoring your existing patients!

Make the patient feel cared for and like an individual person not just ‘another patient’. The more genuinely cared for you make the patient feel, the more likely they are to connect with you.

Consider: newsletters, ezines, patient events, birthday/Christmas cards, thank you's for referrals, loyalty schemes.

Tip 3: Increase revenue per patient:

Don’t assume that your existing patients know about everything that you do – tell them, and keep reminding them.

Consider: newsletters, ezines, smile checks, posters.

Tip 4: Encourage referrals:

At least 70% of your new patients should be coming from your current patients and working as a snowball effect. In order to do this though, must look after your existing patients as this encourages loyalty.

Consider: newsletters, ezines, referral cards, incentives to both referring patient and referee (doesn't have to be dental - M&S vouchers, meals out in local restaurants, iPads etc).

Tip 5: Reactivate your dormant patients:

It’s always faster, cheaper and easier to reconnect with patients who have visited you before than it is to attract total strangers to your practice.

Consider: clearing your database, newsletters, letters/emails/texts/telephone calls

Tip 6: Ensure a steady stream of new patients:

Make the most of your online marketing. Your website should be generating a steady stream of new patient enquiries and helping convert your marketing activity.

Consider: optimising & marketing your website, call to actions, special offers, integrating social media.

Tip 7: Harness the power of local marketing:

Advertising in relevant, suitable publications is inexpensive, but effective.

Tip 8: Get in front of new patients:

Implement door drops, use leafleters and attend events to let people know what you have to offer.

Tip 9: Local businesses/ strategic alliances:

Market to local businesses, get face to face, set up reciprocal referrals and become part of the community.

Tip 10: Quick wins:

Special offers, prize draws, discounts and competitions are all important weapons in your arsenal, but use them sparingly.

In summary:

  • Ensure all team members are brand ambassadors
  • The little things do make a big difference
  • Patients must be at the heart of everything
  • Focus on your existing patients before chasing new ones
  • Plan, monitor, measure, review

Please visit the portfolio section of our website http://bluehorizonsmarketing.co.uk/portfolio.html to see examples and case studies or feel free to contact me to discuss your requirements in further detail.


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The importance of bespoke photography


In today’s ever-competitive and crowded market place it is more important than ever to ensure that you stand out from the crowd. Together with a strong brand identity, bespoke photography really helps to set you apart and say something unique about who you are and what you do.

Professional photos for your business can make a huge difference when it comes to making that all-important first impression on your potential clients.  As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Stock images have the advantage of being quick and cheap but do you really want your marketing material to look bland, lack originality and run the risk of being the same as a competitors? By commissioning a bespoke photo-shoot you will have really strong assets to use in your marketing materials that convey what your business is about, why clients should choose you and emulate what you’re all about.

Here at Blue Horizons, we strongly recommend the use of professional photographers. As well as having the technical expertise necessary to get a well-lit, in-focus shot, they also have creative skills, enabling them to create fresh, original images that truly reflect your business image.

If you are interested in commissioning professional photography for your business or would like to see some examples, then give us a call on 01242 236600.

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How to encourage your patients to spread the word

Don’t overlook the potential of obtaining referrals from your existing patients. This should be an integral part of your marketing activity. If done effectively, it can be a low cost, high return method of marketing and growing your practice.

Before beginning your referral campaign you need to make sure that your patients are happy. They are unlikely to refer others to you if they haven’t been impressed with your practice and the service they have received. Address any issues with this first.

Here are some ideas to help you increase the number of patients referred to you by your current patients:

  • Just ask! Find an appropriate moment such as at the end of a successful appointment when the patient is happy. Let them know that you are accepting new patients and you’d be grateful if they’d mention you to their friends and family.
  • Make good use of referral cards by handing them out at every opportunity. For example, ensure that your receptionist hands one to each patient with an explanation. It can work well to include an incentive for both the referring patient and the new patient such as 50% off a consultation.
  • Include a ‘new patients welcome’ message on all correspondence from the practice such as letters, emails, and newsletters. Make sure patients are aware that you are accepting new patients.
  • Put up posters in the reception area and treatment rooms. These should be professional looking and eye catching like all your marketing material to create the right image of the practice. Again these should include an offer for referrals.
  • Facebook and other social media is becoming increasingly popular. It’s free to use but requires time and effort to make it work for you. You need to make regular, interesting and engaging posts. The more ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and comments, the more people will see the posts and the greater the likelihood of referrals.
  • E-newsletters can be a great cost effective way to get messages out to lots of patients. Include a ‘new patients welcome’ message and an offer for referrals.
  • Thank patients for their referrals to maintain good relationships. You may like to make a phone call, send an email or a card. A public mention e.g. in a newsletter can make the referring patient feel good and may inspire others.

Keep a record of patients that come to you as a result of a referral from an existing patient. By tracking all your marketing activity you will be able to see how successful it is.

If you have any questions about any of these ideas or if you would like help with your marketing please get in touch.

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Marketing Mantra: Reach the Right person with the Right message at the Right time

It’s very tempting to be seduced by promises of mass reach and frequency with an all-encompassing message that covers every benefit of every product and service you offer – it sounds efficient really doesn’t it?

But sadly it’s not! In today’s ever competitive environment you must be targeted with your communication.  Your goal should be to reach the right person with the right message at the right time.

Before you even entertain the idea of any tactical marketing initiatives you need to invest the time in ensuring that you drill down your target audiences into groups (segments) focusing on specific needs, wants and characteristics and then match the right message to them.

Try and change your focus to building and maintaining connections and relationships.

  1. Spend some time defining who your ideal patient/client/customer is.  What are they looking for?  What do they want?  What do they need?  What things do they like doing?  What method do they like you to communicate with you through?  The more specific you can be the better.
  2. Drill down and segment your ideal patient/client/customers into distinct manageable groups.
  3. Do some research and really get to understand what your target audiences what, need and like.  If necessary, make tweaks and changes to your product and service offering to suit.
  4. Connect and communicate with both current and potential patients/clients/customers when, where and how they want.  Use your marketing mix – print, digital, social – appropriately.
  5. Build long-term relationships with ongoing marketing (for example, newsletters and e-blasts) based on your targets’ wants and needs.

Often, the path to success involves giving without always expecting to get.  Trust and long-term relationships take time to build and maintain but the rewards are well worth it.

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